Office of the US Trade Representative announced today
that the United States has requested the World Trade Organization
(WTO) to establish a dispute settlement panel, the next
step in its WTO case challenging deficiencies in China''s
legal regime for protecting and enforcing copyrights and
trademarks on a wide range of products.
is one of five WTO cases the United States has brought
against China and the third case against China where the
United States has requested a WTO dispute settlement panel.
The earlier two cases were in September 2006 on China''s
auto import tariffs and in July 2007 against Chinese export
United States and China have tried, through formal consultations
over the last three months, to resolve differences arising
from US concerns about inadequate protection of intellectual
property rights in China. That dialogue has not generated
solutions to the issues we have raised, so we are asking
the WTO to form a panel to settle this dispute,"
said USTR spokesman Sean Spicer.
added, "It is in the best interest of all nations,
including China, to protect intellectual property rights.
Over the past several years China has taken tangible steps
to improve IPR protection and enforcement. However, we
still see important gaps that need to be addressed. We
will pursue this legal dispute in the WTO and will continue
to work with China bilaterally on other important IPR
pursuing this action, the United States is seeking to
eliminate significant structural deficiencies that give
pirates and counterfeiters in China a safe harbor to avoid
criminal liability. The US is also seeking to improve
enforcement procedures at China''s border, and to give
copyright owners more tools to prevent the production
of unauthorized copies in China. The United States requested
WTO dispute settlement consultations with China over these
issues in April. The United States and China held consultations
in early June. China has not, however, taken any steps
that address these U.S. concerns during this period.
WTO Dispute Settlement Body at its next meeting, which
is scheduled for 31 August, will consider the US'' panel
of US complaints against China
The United States had initiated dispute settlement proceedings
over deficiencies in China''s legal regime for protecting
and enforcing copyrights and trademarks by requesting
consultations with China on April 10, 2007.
were held on 7 and 8 June, 2007. Under WTO rules, the
WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) will consider the US
request for establishment of a panel at its next meeting,
which is scheduled for August 31, 2007.
US panel request alleges violations of various provisions
of the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) related to three
aspects of China''s IPR regime.
the request challenges quantitative thresholds in China''s
criminal law that must be met in order to start criminal
prosecutions or obtain criminal convictions for copyright
piracy and trademark counterfeiting.
and distributors are able to operate below these high
thresholds without fear of criminal liability, so these
thresholds effectively permit piracy and counterfeiting
on a commercial scale.
the panel request addresses the rules for disposal of
IPR-infringing goods seized by Chinese customs authorities.
Those rules appear to permit goods to be released into
commerce following the removal of fake labels or other
infringing features, when WTO rules dictate that these
goods normally should be kept out of the marketplace altogether.
the panel request addresses the apparent denial of copyright
protection for works poised to enter the market but awaiting
Chinese censorship approval. It appears that Chinese copyright
law provides the copyright holder with no right to complain
about copyright infringement (including illegal / infringing
copies and unauthorised translations) before censorship
approval is granted.
availability of copyright protection is critical to protect
new products from pirates, who - unlike legitimate producers
- do not wait for the Chinese content review process to
US had requested a WTO panel in September 2006 to examine
China''s regulations imposing local content requirements
in the auto sector through discriminatory charges on imported
auto parts; panel proceedings in that dispute are underway.
In July 2007, the United States requested a panel regarding
several subsidy programmes the United States believes
are prohibited under WTO rules; the panel request in that
dispute is pending before the DSB.
the market access dispute, which concerns Chinese market
access barriers affecting copyright intensive industries
(movies, music, home entertainment videos, publications),
the United States has just completed supplemental consultations
with China and is considering next steps. China settled
the fifth case, concerning discriminatory taxes on semiconductors,
during WTO consultations in 2004.